The Curricula of 2016-2017


So far we love everything we are using. It's such a relief!

We've got 2 and a half students this year. Esmond is sort of a student, and sort of still a toddler. Noemi is still very much a toddler. So that'll be fun, of course. Esmond pretty much already knows everything he thinks he needs to know anyway. (Yes, he's going to be a fun student.) His work will be just learning to love being educated this year, which involves stories, books, and bribes. (If you say this memory work, you'll get a star!)



Our other two students are Eowyn and Gideon. Eowyn is 10, so about 5th grade, and Gideon is 8 so about 3rd grade. I do much as much of our work together as I can. It's all in the expectations. The expectations on Eowyn are much greater. It really does work.

Most of our curricula is just reading books, which is probably why we like it so much.

Morning Feast

(I decided to start calling our Morning Meeting the Feast after reading The Reading Mother's post here.) Morning Feast is our start to the day, usually. We cover Bible, memory work, Shakespeare, poetry, hymns, and fairy tales during the Feast. We're memorizing Ephesians 6, and the Lord's Prayer for Bible. Our memory work is from Cycle 2 of the Classical Conversations Foundations Guide. We're reading several versions of Romeo and Juliet this first semester, and Eowyn and I are actually reading the real text back and forth. (I watched Jenny Rallins talk about Liturgy in the Classroom and was so inspired by her 5th graders acting out a whole play.) Our Village is also memorizing the famous speech from Romeo and Juliet. The boys are memorizing Romeo's lines ("But soft, what light from yonder window breaks?") and the girls Juliet's ("O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?") It's going to be so much fun!

We are reading Grimm's Fairy Tales during our morning feast, and loving these stories. Our poetry will be coming from the Poetry for Young People series, but we're still waiting on those books to get here. And our hymns will begin next week. (I guess I'm easing into the year.)


Math

We have abandoned Saxon completely this year. It's ok, I think we can make it! We're using Ray's Intellectual Arithmetic for Gideon and Ray's Practical Arithmetic for Eowyn. In addition, we're using Khan Academy to help cement concepts from the different angles. I've just about decided to focus on a concept a week for Eowyn (her first concept was place value). They love Khan Academy, and having the Ray's arithmetic gives us an outline to follow.


English

English is fun. I'm writing our Grammar study for our Village. I've taught grammar before, and my lessons try to teach grammar like the Greek and Latin books teach it. (You know how everyone says they finally understood English grammar when they learned another language?) I'm using the same terminology that the Latin and Greek books use (declensions, conjugations, etc.) so that grammar study will naturally flow into the other languages. Anyway, enough about that!



Our English studies also include spelling, vocabulary, and copywork. This year our literature for class is Adam of the Road. As we read (only one chapter per week), the kids pick out their vocabulary words. I'm having them make vocabulary notebooks. Each week, they will fill out a vocabulary page (Gideon with 5-8 words, and Eowyn with 10-15), copying the word and the definition. Then they have a page for copywork, also from Adam of the Road. And then finally two pages for their spelling words. They will write those in after having studied them all week. (I'm still using the Spalding method, but I'm using The Natural Speller for our list of words.)

Then for writing, we are using Writing & Rhetoric. I can't tell you how much I love this. We did Essentials with IEW last year, and it was fine, but not quite so inspiring. I wanted Eowyn to get caught up to book 5 of W&R over the summer, and she did. We worked quickly through books 1-4, and she loves it too. Gideon began with Book 1. I love it because of the focus. W&R teaches writing based on good content, while IEW does not focus so much on the content of the writing as the style of the writing.


Language

Well, I'm going to have to 'fess up. I'm giving up on teaching Greek and Latin from Mounce and Henle. I needed something to give me accountability. Or rather, to give the kids something to do while I'm taking care of the littles. So we're using Elementary Greek, level 1 for both of them. I had given up on Latin because I like Greek and enjoy teaching it. But I think I'm going to try using Latin for Children to see how that goes.

It's been a bit of an upset this year, although not in a bad way, since we've left CC, and are striking out on our own. The upper years' plans are slowly coming into focus for me, but it's quite an undertaking to think about! I do know, though, that Greek and Latin need to be studied. My focus will be more on the Greek side of things.


History and Science

We keep history and science on a loop schedule. One day is history, the next is science, etc. 

History is filling in our history notebooks all about our history sentence for the week. They are allowed to draw pictures, but also have to put in copywork and sometimes a timeline. We watch videos and read about our subject, and I tell them to collect all their knowledge in their notebooks to share with others if the time calls for it. (A friend shared this site with me for Cycle 2, and she's got loads of helpful things for each week!) (We also love the BBC series about Historical Farms. Almost all of them are on Youtube!)

Science is reading and nature journaling. We're reading The New Way Things Work, and so enjoying it. I also have The Burgess Animal Book to read as well, plus some other science books (I listed those in my book list post). As far as nature journaling goes, the kids are excellent naturalists, I just need to improve my own practice. (ahem) Most of the time our nature journals get left outside or left inside. We'll keep working on it. In the meantime, nature journaling includes the tomato hornworm that Gideon has in a mason jar in his room. He's studying its feeding, and hoping to watch it turn into a hawk moth. Maybe I'll remember to tell him to draw it at some point.


And finally, our three simple subjects:

Timeline

We listen to Mystery of History audio books for our timeline study. 

Geography

We love the Draw geography books. This year we're using Draw Europe.

Reading

We read! The kids are independently reading some books, and we've started reading aloud The Door in the Wall. Esmond, Noemi, and I are also reading Beatrice Potter's Collection. It's my focused time on the two littles, and they are slowly coming to appreciate it. (They only wrestled through the whole thing on the first day, and then by the third day Esmond was asking for more stories. Noemi fell asleep that day.)



My own Education

Right now, I'm reading The Liberal Arts Tradition, and commonplacing it. (Which, for that book, means I'm copying the entire book in a journal. I don't think I'm very good at commonplacing.) I'm also reading The Once and Future King. I'm about half way through that one, and I started out loving it, and now I can't decide where it's going, so we'll see. 

And, as far as I can remember, that's it! What are you loving this year? What needs to change? Education is wonderful, stretching, but not meant to be horrible. So don't be afraid to change something.


5 comments

  1. It sounds wonderful. We too have abandoned CC and are trying our own way. We have a little coop we have formed called theCommonPlace that covers science, music, drama, art and memory work. We decided to create our own memory work - closer to what CM would cover. I'd love to hear more about your coop and what you all are covering and how. Have you posted about it? I also love the CAP writing materials - we haven't dug into them yet but they are so much richer than IEW and Memoria Press. Now you are encouraging me to think about Greek more. We are using Latin for Children A and liking it - Henle goes too quickly and there are better ways. Eventually we might use more Visual Latin - but that moves at a good clip too. I think the Liberal Arts Tradition would be VERY hard to commonplace - it is so dense and good. I'd copy the whole thing too. So glad you are settling into a new year well.

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    1. (Your group name is so awesome!) I'm working on a post about our co-op, it's going so well now that we've found our groove. I'm glad to hear you like Latin for Children, I think we are going to have time to work it in. I don't want to abandon Latin, but if it comes down to a choice, I'll choose Greek. The kids really do love Greek, because it's like a secret code.

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  2. Okay. One more question. How are you using the Natural Speller? I have a not very natural speller and am trying to find ways to help him out. He does have a Spalding background so he can mark words without a problem. I'd love to hear more about how you are teaching grammar from the Latin and Greek. This is one of the big things I felt CC was sort of missing the boat on - but I understand not all parents really want to dive into the Latin. For History and Language Arts we are part of Artios Academies and it has been a great fit for us. It also means I can teach older kids which helps fill my cup, while someone else reads and comments on my son's writing! That is a peacekeeping measure.

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    1. I have not heard of Artios Academies, and I'm intrigued! You'll have to share what it is. I'm going to work on another post that will dive into how I'm doing Grammar with the kids. It's going well so far, but I wanted to try it out before I recommended it (just in case it didn't work at all!). But that is coming soon.

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  3. Your most recent post answered lots of my questions. Thanks. We are trying a modified version of Zoo Phonics for my oldest this year and so far it is going well. He also knows all the Spalding markings so we use that as a reference point. Artios Academies has a core curriculum that covers history and English (with the readings matching the time periods) in a four year cycle. They also have music, art and drama that align with the time period and each week includes appreciation and art activity. They do NOT run through books - students cover about 6 or 7 in 28 weeks. I like that number because it gives you time to delve in but also allows you to add in other readings if you are so inclined. They use a modified form of Easy Grammar that incorporates sentences from the literature the student is reading. The history readings are collected in a book and many of them are from Our Island Story or similar sources (except for the modern era). It has a CM background with an emphasis on the arts. Art. Heart. Smart is their tag line. The founder homeschooled her 4 boys all the way through (her youngest graduated last year). I like it because of the arts focus (I am not arty) and their history readings and literature are great. My oldest can't wait to read more about Harriett Tubman right now. We also thought theCommonPlace was a great name on many levels. It is going well - but sickness!

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